It's an exciting time of year for all fans of Commander: the impending release of this year's pre-constructed decks, and with them a pile of thrilling new cards. Commander 2014 does not disappoint, giving players of all stripes plenty of new toys for all their decks. With more than 60 new cards and some pretty spicy reprints, this might very well be the best Commander set to date. Since there are so many of them, I'm going to focus solely on the new cards we'll get to see starting Friday.
I'll say right off the top that Ruhan You Did This to Yourself got a number of new weapons from Commander 2014. This is one of them. I'm a huge fan of the mechanic where the enters-the-battlefield trigger only happens if you actually cast it. It opens some design space for powerful abilities without letting them get degenerate from all the blinking and reanimation. Sure, seven mana is hefty, but it's worth the effect.
The Lieutenant mechanic is something that I think designers have been pondering for quite a while. They've done a nice job of taking their time and thinking it through. Putting the ability on medium-cost creatures is the right call. Vigilance is an ability which doesn't seem all that exciting, but generally ends up being very, very good in a multiplayer game.
Fortunately, none of the Offerings are as collude-y as Trade Secrets. They're still a little sketchy. That said, you can make some hay out of this one by giving the opponent who doesn't have any creatures the three spirits while you gain a pile of life for your giant team. Since it's an instant, you might be able to use it to save someone from an otherwise-lethal attack, which in some leagues gains points and in many situations, gains you political capital.
Holy guacamole! The number of situations in which this card will be a complete blowout for someone is immense. It's a perfect example of the type of card which this format loves: one which will make the whole table roar (some in appreciation, some in pain). I especially can't wait for someone else to try the Blasphemous Act/Repercussion trick. So ridiculous, I might violate my "only one copy of a new card in decks" rule and just run this into everything with white in it.
Just wow. I'm gob-smacked, as our British friends might say. This card will have deep impact on the format, much for the better. Because it's a replacement effect, Containment Priest will also stop the tokens from coming in off of that Avenger of Zendikar someone brought in off of Tooth and Nail, since the ability won't trigger. Remember how in the olden days having UU up made people twitchy? These days all you need is 1W.
One of the few new cards that I think is kind of mediocre. Sure, you're likely to get lots of soldier tokens for your investment, but unless you're the one already ahead on creatures, it's not likely that the 1/1s are going to help all that much. Obviously, if you're built around it (Warstorm Surge, Purphoros), it could be okay.
The major problem with this card is that removing the target will counter it. It makes it a rather unreliable Wrath. It's still a very clever design.
The first of our planeswalker commanders, I shrugged a little when I first read the card. Like with Elspeth, Knight-Errant, Nahiri makes creatures that can protect her as you tick up the loyalty counters. The ultimate is reasonable, but I think that the -2 ability is the one that will yield the most interesting possibilities because of the "or graveyard" clause.
I know the blue mages would rather this be an instant. Six permanents for five mana seems reasonable, but I wonder if the sorcery angle will keep people from playing it.
I know that fellow Commander Rules Committee member Scott Larabee is happy to have a new toy for his kraken/leviathan deck. Another example of good use of the only if you cast it EtB mechanic. We'll need to come up with a catchy name for that.
A super blow-out card! Throw your enemy's best creatures under the bus in a combat you're not involved in. Save it to do the same when you're about to get crushed. In an emergency, you can even use it to untap three of your own creatures. Every time I cast this, I'm going to say "hey, can I borrow those? I'll give them right back."
The Siren's Call and morph mechanic seem an odd pairing. Seems like it'll only have a place in really thematic decks.
I'm rarely a fan of giving an opponent cards without Underworld Dreams in play. Since you're only untapping nonlands, the danger of this card is diminished, but I'd want an exceedingly good reason to play this instead of Jace's Ingenuity.
As 0/1s go, It's no Spiny Starfish. The good news is that it gives you repeatable defense which eventually turns into overwhelming offense. Decks with sacrifice outlets like Greater Good or Altar of Dementia are going to love Reef Worm.
Great flexibility with this card. You can play it in a deck that mills in order to reanimate while still getting rid of things that you might not want in peoples' graveyards. You can also play it in your raw mill decks in order to get rid of Eldrazi. Sure, they'll trigger once, but then they're gone forever. Then you get a fatty on top of it. Winning.
People are going to want to block a 7/7.
The ultimate ability is a little scary, but not in a deck with this Teferi as the commander (since you can't play Doubling Season-although I suppose you could hope someone else plays it then use Copy Enchantment). It's probably going to be a huge component of five-color Super Friends decks. And as I always say, when I see abilities which untap a number of permanents, some infinite combo isn't far behind.
Should be called Well of Greedy Ideas. I'm still not a fan of giving other players cards without a reason (like the aforementioned Underworld Dreams or everyone's favorite, Consecrated Sphinx). This will help your Chasm Skulker get pretty large. The mana cost keeps it in check.
I liked the name of this so much, I'm working it into a story for my fiction class. I also like the ability. It's good without being broken. Definitely good buddies with Thraximundar.
I love my sacrifice outlets. At first glance, I thought this a little bland. On second consideration, it might be able to get pretty large pretty fast. Use it in response to someone else's Wrath of God to sacrifice as many of your creatures as possible, giving you a pretty large counterpunch.
With the what now??? I can't wait to play this in my Kresh, the Bloodbraided deck. With Stalking Vengeance in play, sacrifice Lord of Extinction. Dome someone for lethal, put in an enormous token (which is probably too big to sacrifice to Greater Good). Very, very spicy card.
My favorite of the offerings, because you can choose an opponent with no creatures in play and/or a weak graveyard. Note that you don't get priority in the middle of resolving the spell in order to activate something like Tormod's Crypt.
Creatures die all the time. To get two for the price of one when they do is golden-especially in black, a color that can make creatures die with frightening regularity.
I loved the card until I read the last line. I still like it because you can pick a creature from any graveyard, not just your own. You can choose an Eldrazi because its shuffle ability has triggered but won't go on the stack until after you finish resolving Necromantic Selection.
Another of the planeswalker commanders which I think I'd rather have in another deck than piloting its own. Its ultimate ability is attainable, and you only need to activate it once since it gives you an emblem.
Black is getting some sweet, sweet cards. The mana cost of this is a touch high, although it's warranted because this doesn't have the "cast" prohibition. The obvious combo card with this is Plague Wind, which is probably why the zombies enter the battlefield tapped.
I'm not a fan of attacking people at random. I only have a Ruhan of the Fomori deck because he's absolutely the wrong commander for it. This will find a home in zombie decks, but not too many outside of them.
You'd pay five for Damnation if it also did what this card does. Like I've already said, creatures die in this format. This will very rarely be a dead card (sorry for the pun).
The blowout hits keep on coming! Next time I see him, I will kiss lead designer Ethan Fleischer on the mouth. This set is just perfect.
Officially the winner of the Card You Have to Read the Most Times Before You Understand it Award, it's great to play this and choose the person playing the Angus Mackenzie TurboFog deck.
I like Daretti for both the hand-sculpting and the Goblin Welder-like ability. Note that you target the artifact in the graveyard when you put the ability on the stack, but you don't choose an artifact to sacrifice until the ability resolves. Play it with cards like Ichor Wellspring and Mycosynth Wellspring for super-value. The ultimate ability follows the pattern of the other planeswalkers in being very good without being horribly broken.
I previewed this card last week, and I'm only getting more and more excited about playing it.
The first card I thought of with this was Pelakka Wurm. I know it's not bonkers or anything, but it's continued value. Of course, if you're playing it with Seedborn Muse, then it gets a little silly. I'm reasonably sure this card is part of the fact that I prefer the legendary creatures in this set over the planeswalkers.
I was ready to get all crazy about Impact Resonance and then I realized that it couldn't damage players. You can, however, use it as a two-mana wrath when you've used Fling to murder someone with Lord of Extinction. Or you can wait for someone to alpha strike a third party, then kill all their creatures post-combat.
This is as close as I've ever come to drooling over a Magic card. It's exactly the kind of thing I like to do in this format-punish people for getting out of hand. I will gladly accept anyone killing me with this. There might be a temptation to hang onto the card for one more turn to see if you can get max value out of it-which makes it an even better reason to play Fog effects in your decks. I wish this were an instant so that I could play it after someone has cast Insurrection.
Living Death for artifacts! I'm quite happy with how good the red cards in the set are. It's still going to be the weakest color in the format, but the gap is closing-which is good for all of us.
Karrthus, Tyrant of Jund's Familiar is more like it. "Get out of the way so Karrthus can kill you."
Easily the best of the Offerings. I'd play it just for the first half and be able to take out both Cabal Coffers and Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth in one fell swoop. The second half is just gravy. Fiery, fiery gravy. Of death.
Who doesn't love making all creatures attack? When your whole army flies, it's even better. Clearly you need to play this in a deck that also have white in it so you can play Comeuppance.
You're playing green anyway, so pair this with Kamahl, Fist of Krosa. Giving it trample might be the most significant part. Remember kids, trample kills.
Freyalise is in green, which means Doubling Season. She's the one of the five planeswalkers in the set which I'd be tempted to build a deck around.
Putting cards from your graveyard back into your hand is kind of like drawing cards, which means I don't want to help other players do it. I see this occupying a narrow space, like playing a tribal deck that has Myojin of Life's Web in it.
A creature with built-in Momentous Fall! I'd be tempted to play it relatively early, like with X equal to three or four, then find a way to put it back in my hand, like with Genesis or Oversold Cemetery. Okay, or Grave Sifter.
Jeebus, the cards in this set are going to help people get murdered. These are the kinds of haymakers that made the format popular and will keep it popular for a long time to come. And if I haven't said it enough already-play Fog.
I cannot wait to hear someone say "Wasteland your commander." It will be epic.
Love the art, not loving the card. Unless I can follow it up with Incite Rebellion.
There used to be a mono-green deck called Stompy. It looks like Stompy has returned, with a vengeance. Another well-designed ability in that it's quite strong, but quite conditional.
Another extremely clever card design. Maybe I just think that because I support punishing greedy manabases. Because it's a sacrifice, even Avacyn, Angel of Hope doesn't help-although Sigarda, Host of Herons does (as long as you're not also the one casting Wave of Vitriol).
Conditional abilities always give me pause, but those that are contingent on players doing what players like to do (in this case, drawing cards) generally work out. I imagine you'll regularly and reliably put 2-3 tokens onto the battlefield each upkeep.
Ooh, Vow of X turned into an equipment! I love the "can't be sacrificed" clause. Assault Suit might suck for the person sitting to your right, since they could end up getting attacked with the same creature-perhaps even your commander-multiple times.
Not every card in a set has to be super-splashy. This one is just solid. It will be especially helpful to non-green decks, which need the mana rocks to get their mojo going.
A fun political card, there's a good deal of doom to be brought. Creatures getting +2 to their power adds up to lots of damage in short order.
I love the idea of the ability, but the prohibitive mana cost is going to keep it from getting played. I think it would need to cost three or four to cast to see any hope of actually getting put into decks.
Super-cheap, since you know you're only playing it with other good equipment. There will be times when you want to copy someone else's Skullclamp, but for the most part, you're going in knowing exactly what you want to do with this.
I think they missed an opportunity here. If it were truly unstable, card would run some risk of the second ability happening every time the first one does. That'd be way more flavorful. As it stands, the card is great in the earlygame to get you into the race, then still useful in the later game. Another triumph of design for the team.
A narrow but potentially valuable ability. It reminds me of Tower of the Magistrate. You don't need to use it all the time, but when you do, it's awesome.
Haste is a dangerous ability, especially with commanders, so pay attention when someone drops this. They're going to use it at some point-generally the point right after you've forgotten it's there.
Happy to see a kind of Krosan Verge for the other colors; the non-green ones needed the help. Is it the conspiracy theorist in me that focuses on the way the card is worded? Like somehow there will someday be a basic land card that has the type swamp but isn't a Swamp. It's probably just me, but I'm getting the tin foil hat ready just in case.
This set is simply absurd. There is a giant pile of cards which Commander fans are going to run out to get, and none of them are in the least bit problematic for the format. They'll create the epic memories which have long become the hallmark of the format. I'm looking forward to doing the work of finding homes for nearly each and every one of the new weapons our friends in R&D have given us. Bravo to the design and development teams for a job extremely well done.
This week's Deck Without Comment is Lavinia Blinks (DECKID 56370).
- 1 Duplicant
- 1 Phyrexian Metamorph
- 1 Solemn Simulacrum
- 1 Angel of Finality
- 1 Clone
- 1 Cloudblazer
- 1 Crusading Knight
- 1 Deadeye Navigator
- 1 Disposal Mummy
- 1 Eldrazi Displacer
- 1 Felidar Guardian
- 1 Frost Titan
- 1 Galepowder Mage
- 1 Karmic Guide
- 1 Knight of the White Orchid
- 1 Man-o'-War
- 1 Oreskos Explorer
- 1 Phyrexian Ingester
- 1 Reflector Mage
- 1 Resolute Archangel
- 1 Restoration Angel
- 1 Reveillark
- 1 Slithermuse
- 1 Sphinx of Uthuun
- 1 Sun Titan
- 1 Vizier of Deferment
- 1 War Priest of Thune
- 1 Wispweaver Angel
- 1 Brago, King Eternal
- 1 Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
- 1 Isperia, Supreme Judge
- 1 Venser, Shaper Savant
- 1 Ephara, God of the Polis
- 1 Azorius Cluestone
- 1 Conjurer's Closet
- 1 Crystal Shard
- 1 Darksteel Ingot
- 1 Portcullis
- 1 Sensei's Divining Top
- 1 Sol Ring
- 1 Strionic Resonator
- 1 Wayfarer's Bauble
- 1 Equilibrium
- 1 Future Sight
- 1 Azorius Charm
- 1 Blue Sun's Zenith
- 1 Cryptic Command
- 1 Cyclonic Rift
- 1 Eerie Interlude
- 1 Faith's Reward
- 1 Ghostly Flicker
- 1 Hibernation
- 1 Restore the Peace
- 1 Return to Dust
- 1 Sphinx's Revelation
- 1 Turnabout
- 1 Vanish into Memory
- 1 Day of Judgment
- 1 Planar Cleansing
If you'd like to follow the adventures of my Monday Night RPG group (in a campaign that's been alive since 1987), ask for an invitation to the Facebook group "Sheldon Menery's Monday Night Gamers."
Here is the latest database version of all my decks:
ADUN'S TOOLBOX ; ANIMAR'S SWARM;AURELIA GOES TO WAR;CHILDREN of a LESSER GOD;DEMONS OF KAALIA;EREBOS and the HALLS OF THE DEAD;GLISSA, GLISSA;HELIOD, GOD OF ENCHANTMENTS;DREAMING OF INTET;FORGE OF PURPHOROS;KARN, BEATDOWN GOLEM;HALLOWEEN WITH KARADOR;KARRTHUS, WHO RAINS FIRE FROM THE SKY;KRESH INTO THE RED ZONE;LAVINIA BLINKS;LAZAV, SHAPESHIFTING MASTERMIND;ZOMBIES OF TRESSERHORN;MELEK'S MOLTEN MIND GRIND;MERIEKE'S ESPER CONTROL;THE MILL-MEOPLASM;NATH of the VALUE LEAF;OBZEDAT, GHOST KILLER;PURPLE HIPPOS and MARO SORCERERS;ZEGANA and a DICE BAG;RAKDOS: LIFE IS SHORT;RITH'S TOKENS;YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELF;RURIC THAR AND HIS BEASTLY WEREWOLF FIGHT CLUB;THASSA, GOD OF MERFOLK;THE ALTAR of THRAXIMUNDAR; TROSTANI and HER ANGELS